Orlando VA Healthcare System
Mobile Devices for VA Community Inpatient Care
In 2013, the Orlando VA Medical Center piloted a Community Inpatient Care Team model at non-VA hospitals to better serve rural Veterans in their region. This initiative brings together the Orlando VA Medical Center and local community and university hospitals to enable VA care teams to provide inpatient care for Veterans at their facility. The chief benefit of this model is that it provides care closer to rural Veterans, while keeping the coordination of care under VA physicians and case managers. One of the keys to the success of this pilot is ensuring VA care teams at non-VA hospitals have access to VA information, including patient history, records and more. Fortunately, the entire 10-person Community Inpatient Care Team participating in the pilot has VA-issued mobile devices as part of the VA Mobile Health Provider Program. Launched in 2014, the program has delivered mobile devices (tablets) to more than 12,000 VA care teams at 40+ sites, equipping them with the tools they need to operate while on-the-go. With VA-issued mobile devices, the VA care teams at non-VA hospitals have direct and secure access to VA’s electronic medical record.
“The Community Inpatient Care Teams use their devices as a tool to provide overall supervision of the Veteran’s quality of care, facilitate processes, coordinate follow-up care, look up patient records and monitor to assure compliance with VA requirements,” said Dr. Angel Colon-Molero, National Director for Specialty Care Services Centers of Innovation at the Orlando VA Medical Center and founder of the Community Inpatient Care Team pilot. The VA-issued devices provide immediate access to important information, which is particularly critical for Veterans admitted to a non-VA emergency department. VA care teams can quickly reference patient records to ensure non-VA staff don’t prescribe unnecessary tests, which the patient may have already completed at a VA facility. Access to information saves both time and money for the emergency department, but more importantly, spares Veterans from unnecessary or duplicative treatment.
Dr. Theodore Lee, Chief of Hospital Medicine at Orlando VA Medical Center, and has been part of the Community Inpatient Care Teams pilot since its inception. While providing care at a non-VA hospital he has observed that Veterans respond positively to his mobile device. “I believe Veterans are reassured that we have access to their information, even outside of the VA facility, and that we are using that information and technology to their benefit,” Dr. Lee said.
Drs. Colon-Molero and Lee believe the success of this pilot could be expanded to other parts of the country, as long as VA-issued devices are available. The mobile devices enable the Community Inpatient Care Teams to improve productivity, workflow, accessibility and communication with the Veterans, even when providing care at a non-VA facility.
As the Mobile Health Provider Program evolves, so will opportunities to use mobile technology to improve Veterans’ health care. VA will be developing and releasing a series of VA-developed web and mobile apps that will enable providers to write progress notes, enter a subset of orders, and complete other clinical tasks, as well as support specific common workflows.